What is urethral stricture?
It is a narrowing that happen in the urethra (water pipe that transmits urine from the bladder through the penis).
What are the causes of urethral stricture?
Urethral stricture involves constriction of the urethra. This is usually due to tissue inflammation or the presence of scar tissue. Scar tissue can be a result of many factors. Young boys who have hypospadias surgery (a procedure to correct an underdeveloped urethra) and men who have penile implants have a higher chance of developing urethral stricture.
A straddle injury is a common type of trauma that can lead to urethral stricture. Examples of straddle injuries include falling on a bicycle bar or getting hit in the area close to the scrotum.
Other possible causes of urethral stricture include:
- Pelvic fractures
- Traumatic Catheter insertion
- Cystoscopy or Surgery performed on the prostate
- Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) like gonorrhoea or chlamydia
What are the symptoms of urethral stricture?
Urethral stricture can cause numerous symptoms, ranging from mild to severe. Some of the signs of a urethral stricture include:
- Weak urine flow or reduction in the volume of urine
- Sudden, frequent urges to urinate
- A feeling of incomplete bladder emptying after urination
- Frequent starting and stopping of urinary stream
- Pain or burning during urination
- Inability to control urination (incontinence)
- Pain in the pelvic or lower abdominal area
- Urethral discharge
- Penile swelling and pain
- Presence of blood in the semen or urine
- Darkening of the urine
- Inability to urinate (this is very serious and requires immediate medical attention)
How is urethral stricture diagnosed?
Through Flow test and Flexible Cystoscopy or Urethrogram (special X-ray with contrast study)
What are the treatment methods for urethral stricture?
In some cases, widening of the stricture with special dilators or cutting the stricture with lasers may be required. Surgery is another option. An open urethroplasty is an option for longer, more severe strictures. This procedure involves removing affected tissue and reconstructing the urethra. Results vary based on stricture size.